Spanish multinational banking giant BBVA has acquired yet another online banking startup in the form of Holvi, a Finnish firm that specializes in providing online current accounts and related services for “makers and doers” — ie small businesses, freelancers, and entrepreneurs. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The news comes just over two years after BBVA paid $117 million in the U.S. for Simple, a “direct bank” that replaces physical branches with online and telephone-based support. And last year, BBVA also bought a 29.5 percent stake in U.K.-based online bank Atom for ￡45 million ($64 million) — a hefty amount considering Atom has yet to open to the public.
The motive behind BBVA’s move could not be clearer — it’s buying into the future of banking by investing in nimble, innovative young companies.
We’re seeing a slew of enterprising fintech startups popping up to try to “unbundle” traditional banking services — Peter Thiel-backed Number26 is one such company, as is peer-to-peer money transfer startup TransferWise. And just two weeks ago, those two companies banded together to “rebundle” services, for a new approach to banking that combines the specialities of multiple startups.
So, it’s not surprising to see BBVA paying special attention to fintech startups — it’s all about staying relevant. We can likely see other such acquisitions come to fruition in the coming months and years — not just from BBVA, but from other giants of the banking world.